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S H I V A - T H E G O D O F D E S T R U C T I O N
WHY SHIVA HAS HIS THROAT BLUE?
There are many stories in the Puranas about the origin of Shiva. According to the Vishnu Purana, at the beginning of this kalpa Brahma wanted a child and meditated for one.
Presently, a child appeared on his lap and started crying. When asked by Brahma why he was crying, the child replied that it was because he did not have a name. Brahma then named him Rudra, meaning "howler".
However the child cried seven more times and was given seven more names. Shiva therefore has eight forms: Rudra, Sharva, Bhava, Ugra, Bhima, Pashupati, Ishana, and Mahadeva, which, according to the Shiva Purana, correspond to the earth, water, fire, wind, sky, a yogi called Kshetragya, the sun, and the moon respectively.
During the samudra manthan, when poison was churned out of the ocean, Shiva is said to have swallowed it to save the world from destruction. As he drank the poison, Parvati clasped his throat tightly so that the poison remained there and darkened his neck. Because of this, he is known as Neelkantha, the blue-necked one.
NATARAJA - THE LORD OF DANCE
Shiva is the creator of dance and of the first 16 rhythmic syllables ever uttered, from which the Sanskrit language was born. His dance of anger is called the Roudra Tandava and his dance of joy, the Ananda Tandava.
All the gods and sages were present when he first danced the Nadanta Tandava, a characteristically vigorous dance, and they begged him to dance again.
Shiva promised to do so in the hearts of his devotees and in a sacred grove in Tamil Nadu, where the great temple of Chidambaram was built, the only one in all India dedicated to Shiva as Nataraja, the lord of dance.
It is believed that on the 13th day of each bright lunar fortnight (see Hindu Calendar), after 6 o'clock in the evening, falls a sacred hour called Pradosha.
Worshipping Shiva at this time is akin to worshipping all the powers of Shiva, for this is the time when all the gods are believed to have assembled on Kailash to lose them in the ecstasy of Nataraja's dance.
He dances the dance of creation, the dance of destruction, the dance of solace and liberation. Beneath his left foot ignorance is crushed; from his head springs the life-giving waters.
His are the flames, the moon, the drum, and the lotus. His mount is the white bull, and the tiger has given its skin to gird his loins. Serpents coil about his limbs, and from his right hand flows the promise of release.
This dance is not just a symbol. It takes place within each of us at the atomic level at every moment. The birth of the world, its maintenance, its destruction, the covering of the soul and its revelation...these are the five acts of this dance. All that has been made will be unmade, and all that has been destroyed will be resurrected.